About Netball Papua New Guinea
The sport of netball was first introduced by Missionaries along the Central Coast of Territory of Papua as it was then known. In the late 1950s Dr Wright, a medical officer organized a local competition between the Papuan Medical College at Taurama and the Kavari Girls High School in Hanuabada. Amongst the first women to play competitive netball were the former Member of Parliament Dame Josephine Abaijah and Raula Vele of Keapara village. The beginnings of formalizing the sports was initiated by Dame Lady Cleland, wife of the then Administrator Sir Donald Cleland, together with Mrs Reitano and the very first Chair/President was a man from Hanuabada village called Kamea Gabe.
It was not until around 1966 that an Association was formed called Port Moresby Netball Association. This was organized by two expatriate women Mrs Rita Fynn and Helen Durkham who both held Presidents positions in that Association consecutively. In 1969 PNG competed in the first Pacific Games against Fiji and won. Some of the reps of those times and still involved in Netball today are Veitu Apana Diro, Tegana Guria Kapi, Rebecca Guruma and Aiyama from Morobe Province. Some highlights of the Independence Celebration in 1975 was the selected Under 21 PNG Team who played against the visiting Singapore side and won. Port Moresby Netball started competition with two asphalt courts and two grass courts, later increasing to nine playing courts and by early 1980s had a total of 15 courts of which 10 are asphalt courts and four are grass courts. By that time Netball found its way into Lae Morobe Province and the Central Province Netball Association was formed in the mid-1970s. With the prolific growth of small clubs and Associations within the Southern region, and the gradual spread to other main centers, this paved the way to creating the PNG Netball Federation to cater for wider growing needs of women netball athletes.
Today there are 18 affiliated Netball Associations established in 12 Provinces with the rest of the membership spread throughout the Southern Region alone. There are about 10,000 registered players throughout the country with many more playing at rural levels. Netball continues to be the largest women’s participating sport in the country. PNG Netball now shares Indoor stadium which was built to host the 2015 Pacific Games and is now relocating its office premises in its pursuit to operationalize the Sports.
In terms of its playing performance, PNGs first World Netball appearance was in 1975 Games in New Zealand where it ranked 15th out of 17 countries. Between 1980s and 1995, PNG’s ranking remained constant between 13 and 17. PNG’s biggest drop has occurred within the last 5 years where its current senior ranking stands at 31 out of 34 countries and 3rd within the Pacific Region. Lots more work needs to be done to improve its standards in all facets of the Sport of Netball and that is the main focus and drive of the recently elected Board. PNG Netball is confidently taking up this challenge and foresees improvements taking place over the next three to five years with the financial aid from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and technical support through Netball Australia…for this we are truly grateful.